Movie Review: ‘Don’t Hang Up’

Director: Alexis Wajbrot, Damien Macé

Cast: Gregg Sulkin, Garrett Clayton, Bella Dayne, Sienna Guillory

Plot: A pair of obnoxious teenage seek viral fame by uploading prank call videos onto the internet. The tables are turned on them when a mysterious man begins calling them with all their information and threats of violence.

Review: After watching this fairly enclosed thriller I was surprised to find it sitting on a paltry 25% on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s a miserable score, landing in the space between being dumb popcorn entertainment and so-bad-it’s-funny, and there’s nothing worth watching in that zone. Perhaps this is because we’d come off the back of Human Zoo, possibly the worst horror movie we’ve ever sat through, but this was not a terrible movie. Predictable, yes, but a pretty competent effort.

There’s a jarring disconnect at the beginning when we’re introduced to our main characters and they all seem to be approaching thirty. When it clicked that these guys were supposed to still be in school it became a little harder to take them seriously. It would be difficult to find younger performers who could manage the material, as the characters are called upon to project some drastic emotional shifts. Keeping the main cast down to two frat-boy douchebags does mean that we don’t have any redshirts. All the focus is on the dynamic between these two, and they get fleshed out more than the average slasher character.

What also works in the film’s favour is the decent pacing and build up of danger. Initially our central dickheads are dismissive of the deadly caller, and don’t want to give credit to the warning signs. It takes a while before the tension escalates to the point that lives are on the line, and keeping the action restricted to the one house gives the whole thing a nice, bottle-episode feeling.

What holds the film back is the script falling into predictability. Everything was so telegraphed that I half-expected it to be a red herring for the audience before the real twist was revealed. The film opens with the boys making one of their especially mean-spirited prank calls. Just one gets focused on, with other examples being bundled together in a montage. It comes as little surprise when this turns out to be the inciting incident that kicks off the rest of the story. There is a few attempts and heel-turns and twists, but there’s nothing here that we haven’t seen before in the last ten years.

The directors, one of whom earns a crust making special effects are top-tier superhero movies, clearly know what they’re doing here. With a unique selling point or a clever subversion of expectations may have helped this movie stand out. Instead…it’s fine.

Rating: SIX out of TEN